Consigned by a private collector and preserved in excellent overall condition, the present watch is from the highly sought after first, or 'Reference T', series of the Tourbillon Souverain with remontoire d’égalité visible in an aperture on the dial. Its number, 044/99T, indicates that it is the 44th watch of the series, made in 1999.
Introduced at Baselworld in 1999, the ‘Reference T’ it is not only F.P. Journe’s first production watch but also the very first wristwatch ever to use a constant force remontoire, a mechanism to improve timekeeping that regulates the variable force delivered by the mainspring to the escapement as it unwinds.
The Tourbillon Souverain’s combination of remontoire with tourbillon successfully showcases F. P. Journe's technical and design genius in the creation of a highly complicated modern wristwatch yet one whose roots are firmly in the great horological traditions.
Within the 1999 ‘Reference T’ series, three dial generations have been identified:
"Souscription" series, only 20 pieces made, sold to collectors who paid prior to completion of the watches, as the name indicates. The watches are numbered from 1/20 to 20/20 on the dial and on the case, the dials inscribed only "Invenit et Fecit / F.P. Journe". The cock for the remontoire is rounded.
Reference T, the first watches made as a production series. The dials are signed “Invenit et Fecit / F.P. Journe" and "Remontoir d'Egalité". As with the Souscription watches, the cock for the remontoire is rounded.
Third generation, the present watch:
Increased size power reserve numerals, almost the same size as the minutes. Flat remontoir cock.
Early series tourbillons are also distinguished by their case backs. The souscription watches feature hand-engraved lettering, subsequent examples, numbered from 21 onwards, show shallow case back engravings, with the lettering etched in outline. The case backs were secured by conventional, slotted screws, often exchanged during a servicing at F.P. Journe against Holt head screws, now standard on all of the firm's watches.
Until the launch of the ‘Reference TN’ or ‘Tourbillon Nouveau’ in April 2004, the Tourbillon Souverain series used the caliber 1498 rhodium-plated brass movement. From 2004 onwards, it was replaced by a movement made of gold and named caliber 1403.
Consequently, these early examples of the model with rhodium-plated brass movements are now recognized as an important milestone in the brand’s history and have become highly prized by serious F.P. Journe collectors.